The Kentucky legislature has passed Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) legislation with unanimous support. The bill, SB 179, is now headed to Governor Matt Bevin for his signature.
Sponsored by Senators Danny Carroll, Ralph Alvarado and Wil Schroder, the Kentucky legislation follows enactment by the federal government of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014.
Modeled after college savings accounts, ABLE accounts will enable people with autism and their families to save for housing, education, transportation, medical and other expenses if related to their disability. Assets in ABLE accounts will generally be disregarded by means-tested federal programs like Medicaid.
“We are thrilled to see the unanimous support of ABLE in Kentucky and are hopeful that Governor Bevin will soon sign the legislation to empower families to plan for their financial security,” said Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel at Autism Speaks. “This victory would not have been possible without the leadership of Senators Carroll, Alvarado and Schroder as well as grassroots advocates from the entire disability community working together in Kentucky.”
ABLE laws have been enacted in the District of Columbia and the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The victory in Kentucky comes after Congress introduced legislation to expand the ABLE program for individuals with autism and other disabilities last week. The package includes the ABLE to Work Act, the ABLE Financial Planning Act and the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. Advocates applauded the proposed enhancements.